On July 19, 2015 the MFAC program will have a Graduate Recognition ceremony to honor the men and women who have just completed their studies and will receive an MFA from Hamline University. Between now and residency we’ll be posting interviews with the grads.
Zach Arrowsmith is today’s grad; he lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma
What do you do when you’re not working on packets?
When I’m not working on packets, I’m probably out in the yard planting flowers or running from snakes and snake-like earthworms. I also like to paint local architecture and find old antiques to restore or repurpose. Then there is Nintendo and, of course, Lego…both of which are big names in our house. Bigger than Oprah and Colonel Sanders.
How did you hear about the Hamline MFAC Program?
Honestly, I just stumbled upon it while researching nontraditional MFA programs. I think it was on a list of the top underrated programs that few people know about or something. I was like, “That sounds like me…I should give it a shot!” And then I saw the required reading list…and Chaucer wasn’t on it! So I signed up.
What was your writing experience prior to entering the program?
Just a few creative writing classes for my undergrad in English at the U of A. Workshops were not as lovely as they are at Hamline. There was, as they say, writers’ blood on the walls. And I’m a pacifist.
What do especially remember about your first residency?
Rumchata. And professors singing showtunes.
Have you focused on any one form (PB, novel, nonfiction; graphic novel) or age group in your writing? Tried a form you never thought you’d try?
I came in thinking I was going to do YA and that’s that and you can’t change me; however, my creative thesis was entirely picture books. Like Justin Bieber, I never say never, but I’ll probably not return to YA or self-indulgent first-person narrators in small-town Southern settings. On the flip side, I also came in thinking picture books were about ABCs and keeping pee in the potty. I am so pleased to walk away from the program having a deeper understanding of this genre. Not to sound like Celine Dion, but children are the world and they care so deeply about their stories. The people who write them should care that much, too.
Any thoughts for entering students or for people considering the program?
I know everyone says this, but do try to experiment across genres during your time at Hamline—even if just for one semester. That genre—or even the advisor you get—might say something to you that you might otherwise not have heard. Also, don’t worry too much about mixing potions to control your fate while in this program. I truly believe that you will have the advisor you’re meant to have at the exact moment you’re meant to have them. Everything will work out. Just keep your pen moving and, when you’re not writing, keep your nose in a